Content Aggregation: Boon or Bane for Publishers?
"Helium puts content seekers in touch with a broad range of writers, for one-time or ongoing programs," she says. "The cost-effective service is an ideal complement to the traditional editorial development that forms the core of publishers' material. The use of Helium can also introduce publishers to fresh voices—and fresh voices to publishers."
Helium's "expansive editorial community" means it can offer high-quality content tailored to any delivery channel, which drives monetization through both search engine optimization (SEO), and paywall or subscription strategies, Bushell says.
Content: Ghost in the Machine?
Even more radical is the notion of "machine-generated" content—an idea being developed through Northwestern University's Center for Innovation in Technology, Media and Journalism and a startup based on the research conducted there, Narrative Science. Presenting at the American Magazine Conference (AMC) Innovation 2010 conference last fall in Chicago, Northwestern's Kristian Hammond demonstrated the capacity for software to turn data-heavy information (such as financial reports or baseball box scores) into readable news articles. The technology is not meant to replace traditional news reporting, he told attendees, but to expand coverage into areas previously neglected due to a lack of resources—such as hyper-local sports reporting. Hammond broached the idea of write-ups for every Little League baseball game in the country, in multiple languages. "The push here is to write into the 'long tail,'" he said.
The technology works through meta tagging and seeks to make obscure data more accessible by telling a story, he said. For example, logarithms would be created to report on sports games based on certain data, such as a game score of 11 to 1 being written up as a "blow out." (Hammond gave other examples that better explained how the process works, and how it's quite feasible.)
A spokesman for Narrative Science, Stuart Frankel, told Publishing Executive that the company will have additional news on its efforts later in 2011.